Posted in: news

17th March 2017

Getting to know B Team Leader Bob Collymore

What inspires you?

The opportunity to use my ability to make a transformation in someone’s life. More than anything else, this is the one driver that keeps my heart and work aligned. At Safaricom, we call this vision ’Transforming Lives’ — it’s the driving purpose behind why we each get up every day.

Which B Team challenge or initiative are you motivated by most, and how is your company helping to lead on the issue?

I was instantly attracted by the 100% Human initiative because it outlines in very simple terms how we can create more humanized workplaces. Too often in business we focus on building the perfect ‘machine’ that delivers the fastest route to the bottom line. We often forget that our people are not machines, but human beings. Being 100% Human is about ensuring that all people are treated with dignity and respect, and that they have a safe, equitable and empowering environment where they can receive a fair share for the value they create. It also means ensuring that all their rights are fully supported.

What convinced you to take on this challenge? Why do you believe that it cannot be achieved without business engagement and leadership?

Businesses hold a great deal of power within our societies – many times, they can drive change in society in ways that other groups may not. When business acts, we can set the tone for national discussions on how we can treat our people more fairly. No one should ever live in fear or suffer exploitation. Creating these safe spaces at our workplaces, which are both equitable and empowering, will create a more conscious generation of workers who can then influence their wider communities.

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned on this journey?

That we rarely appreciate just how resourceful our people can be once they discover their purpose. We often have a one dimensional view of ourselves and our role in society, forgetting that we can use our talents to drive monumental change at home, at work or at play.

What is the first thing you do every morning?

If you had asked me this a few months ago, I probably would have said I reach for my phone to check emails.Now I take time in the early mornings to reflect on my priorities for the day. I visualize how they shall be achieved, and try my best to stick to that roadmap. Some of the priorities I am paying more attention to these days is my personal health as well as being more engaged with my family.

What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur seeking to start a new company today?

Don’t try to be a ‘me too’ by recreating a solution just because someone else has had some success with it. Identify a need, or a gap, and then find a way to solve it, your way.

If there is one big change you could make in the world today, what would it be?

The lack of trust across the world in our leadership is becoming increasingly worrying. I think we need a wave of more responsible and representative leadership, both in public and private sector.

If you were given an extra day next week, how would you spend it?

I do tend to work myself pretty hard, so I would probably spend the spare time looking at how I could engage more with family or the community around me. And I would try to have fun while doing it. In fact – I would probably combine all these objectives by taking my family to spend a day playing jazz with the kids at Ghetto Classics.

What one thing would you change to help more companies go further, faster, towards sustainable business?

I would like to see a future where companies are ranked according to their work towards creating more sustainable communities as opposed to how big they are or how well they brand themselves. This would make more shareholders hold their management to account on how they are working to achieve the SDGs.

This interview is part of a new series to help you get to know The B Team leaders, what they are working on and what they are passionate about.

You can read Richard Branson’s interview here, Yolanda Kakabadse’s interview here and Sharan Burrow's interview here.